That smiling, friendly, warm, affable insurance adjuster who assures you he’s offering you the best settlement you can possibly get in many cases is a two-faced liar trying to get away with paying out as little as possible.
An adjuster is not your friend. Insurance adjusters are adversaries of policyholders making a claim and are trying to realize as much profit for their companies as possible.
Some insurance companies give their psychological adjusters training to make them seem like they are a friend to customers who get in accidents and file claims.
They also receive training in getting customers to accept settlements that are as small as possible. (See the Krasney Law blog Insurance Companies Pay Out as Little as Possible.)
Adjusters Even Deny Good-Faith Claims
And some insurance companies are just downright denying claims altogether, according to this article in the Galveston County (Texas) Daily News. Allen Kanner of the Louisiana Association for Justice writes:
There’s a reason your insurance claims handler and adjuster are likeable people. Insurance companies have figured out customers are more likely to accept bad news from a friend and a seemingly non-adversarial tone will discourage an insured from getting a second opinion from a lawyer or public adjuster.
This is not a practice of just a few renegade adjusters; there have been systematic efforts by insurance companies to use personal connection to manipulate policy holders. Lafayette Insurance’s claims manual tells its adjusters to “sell the person on your sincerity; gain their confidence” then take their statement.
Kanner reports that Farmer’s Insurance threw pizza parties and gave cash prizes to adjusters who met low-payout goals.
Refusing Insurance to those who Need it
The American Association of Justice report titled The Ten Worst Insurance Companies: How They Raise Premiums, Deny Claims, and Refuse Insurance to Those Who Need It Most states: “In the words of former Allstate adjuster Jo Ann Katzman, ‘We were told to lie by our supervisors—it’s tough to look at people and know you’re lying.’ … The name of the game is deny, delay, defend—do anything, in fact, to avoid paying claims. For companies like Allstate, there are corporate training manuals explaining how to avoid payments, portable fridges awarded to adjusters who deny the most claims, and pizza for parties to shred documents.”
You Probably do need a Lawyer
Adjusters tell policyholders filing claims that they don’t need a lawyer. They often say a person is better off accepting the company’s proposal because the attorneys’ contingency fees would eat up much of the settlement. The fact is, a properly trained and experienced lawyer, such as the ones at Krasney Law in San Bernardino, are likely to obtain more money for you even after the contingency fee is paid.
Tips on Dealing with Adjusters
Don’t give an adjuster a written or recorded statement without talking to an attorney first, especially if your injuries are serious. As an example of their sneakiness, an adjuster may inquire how are you at the beginning of the statement. If you reply with a stock response of “I’m fine,” the adjuster may twist it around and say you were admitting to not having injuries.
Don’t sign a medical release for them to see all your records. The adjuster may try to find information from previously existing conditions and try to deny your claim on that count.
Adjusters sometimes falsely claim that the person who negligently caused your injuries or the death of a loved one had minimum insurance coverage. Don’t believe that. Let a lawyer carefully read the fine print of the defendant’s policy to see what all is and is not covered. An attorney very well may find coverage in the policy that you had no idea you were entitled to.
Don’t Sign a Release
Sometimes adjusters will offer a small amount of money before you’ve been able to assess the extent of your injuries or even see a doctor. They tell you you must sign paperwork that releases the insurance company for any future claims or payments for a small amount of cash. Do not sign.
Again, especially if your injury is serious it’s in your best interest to see an attorney before signing anything an insurance company offers you to sign. At Krasney Law of Banning and San Bernardino, your first consultation with us is free, so you really can’t lose if you talk to us first.
If you file a claim for a serious injury, the insurance company very well may assign investigators to photograph you and video you to see if you really are disabled. For this reason, it’s a good idea never to lie or exaggerate your injuries. But be aware you’re probably being surveilled, and they may try to catch you in a compromising physical activity to deny your claim.
Sometimes adjusters will even have the audacity to say that a doctor’s treatments were unnecessary and deny part of your claim.
A Question of Liability
Insurance company representatives often claim a policyholder you are filing a claim against was not liable in the accident or event that injured you. Adjusters may even say that another party or even you, the aggrieved party, were liable or partly liable for the incident. If they try this, almost your only recourse is to hire an attorney to fight the insurance company.
That’s one of the big things we do at Krasney Law: Personal Injury Specialists—we fight insurance companies’ dirty tricks. You pay nothing for us to assess your case and explain your options to you at your first meeting. Then Krasney Law collects no fees unless you receive a monetary settlement or your case goes to trial.
Even if you don’t hire us to shepherd you through your entire case, at least consider hiring us to review your settlement documents with you.
If you were injured in an automobile or other type of accident, please call us at (909) 380-7200. You may also contact us on the Web at http://krasneylaw.net/contact-us.